Speaking of spectator sports, among the visual artifacts on your site is this logo:
In Which He Discusses Growing Up
Kustom, Gearhead Authenticity
Versus Bicycle Marketing, Real
Hot Rods, Living In Bicycle
Paradise, And The Fact
That There Really Is A
God, And He Goes
By The Name Of
BR&K Interview Conducted By Jim Wilson
Most people who carry the kustom gene tend to start out in adolescence, by messing with their bicycles. This is probably because toddlers, due to lack of skills at that age, don't do much more than apply stickers to their tricycles. After they work out their chops on bikes, hard-core kustom kids usually work their way up to cars, and if they stick with it diligently enough, they get to the stage where you are now, in relation to that creative medium.
A: That's a good observation. Most of us do start as a kid doing some kind of kustomization. I started building things with my father (the lateRon Fuller), it seems, from birth. He was mainly into carpentry: we built farmhouses, barns, rent houses, etc. Cutting, and hammering, etc. has always been really fun to me. The satisfaction of thinking of something and making reality is very satisfying
Damon Lee is my "Rod and Kustom" friend who took pictures on our group ride shown on the next picture. Here he gets on the other side of the camera on the "El Segundo Especial" that I patterned after the "California Kid" hot rod.
My first buildings were usually forts. We had about 4 acres of dense East Texas woods that was basically uninhabited by anyone else but me and my friends, to erect club houses. I lost lots of Dad's tools, which resulted in plenty of heated arguments.
Bikes were next because they were the only mode of transport in those days. Your BMX was also your main source of freedom; driving always involved adults. When you and your friends were cruising or making jumps in the woods somewhere you were free. I always hated to be tied down at home; weekends, and summers (sometimes at night but that's a whole other question) were when I felt the most alive and adult.
In middle school I built (with my lawn mowing money) a full half-pipe in my backyard. It was 6 ft on one side and 8.5 ft on the other. I was in 8th grade (about 1984) and there was only one other quarter-pipe in town. Jacksonville was only about 14,000 people. Most Saturdays, about 5 - 15 kids would ride over and we'd do tricks for probably 4 hours.
It's funny to watch the freestyle guys now because, at the time my best trick was a table-top-: dropping a leg and a hand. I thought that was a hell of a feat, but now that's a joke. I still keep in touch with some of those characters: Nathan Reynolds, Speck and Ament. Damn, those were some good times!
I always kustomized my bikes because I couldn't afford the Redline, Mongoose, etc. that I really wanted. The kids on the East side of town had these bikes and I wanted to be able to compete with them. One was rattle-can painted black from head to toe, including the tires. Dirty? No problem; just paint it again. My favorite BMX-er in those days was my Wal-Mart chrome bike, $125 dollars as I remember it. The first day, I stripped everything off and started kustom work immediately: foot pegs, neck, checkerboard pads, seat, Skyway wheels, Bearclaw pedals, black and white grips. The whole thing was chrome, black and white. It was one of the cooler-looking bikes in my town; nowhere near as light as the name brands, though.
This was a great day; 5 Fuller choppers together at once for a cruise. From top: Martin, Boudreau, JC Lee, Paige, Nicole,
D. Gray, and Fuller on the right. Stopped a lot of folks in their tracks that afternoon.
To more completely answer your question, I didn't do anything that wasn't a bolt-on in those days. My ultimate dream was to totally design my own bike. Building these choppers in the last 6 years is fulfilling that dream. I had a lot of dreams as a kid (many say I'm still a kid,) Building these bikes, in a way, is keeping the commitment I made to myself back then, to realize the dreams I have. Once I accomplish these goals I can move on to a new dream and find a way to get that done as well. The problem is that trying to get all these dreams realized takes longer than you would think...it's a short life here on this planet.
Q: There's an amazing amount of commonality in the background of everyone in the kustom world. Almost invariably, we all had DIY dads, even if they weren't involved in anything more hi-tech than woodwork and carpentry. It's probably just being exposed to tool-usage from an early age that gets us going. And I'm sure your dad did his own plumbing and electrical work, too, and drafted you into it.
I'll always be grateful to my late father for his encouragement in that way, especially since he kept his tools in his old army footlocker, which had provision for a padlock. Even when I'd lose or ruin a tool, he never locked them up; although he threatened to pretty often.
And I had a hell of a treehouse I made for myself and my friends, using his tools and stolen construction materials. My buddies and I even built trailers for our bikes, so we could plunder demolition and construction sites more efficiently. Having criminal tendencies is probably common to us all, as well, but we won't get into that. We've got some great photos you sent. How about if we look at one now?
I presume that this is a daily beater. Is that a real baby, or an incredibly-realistic hollow fiberglass replica made for showing off the kustom kiddy seat on that Phat Cycles Chopper? Is that tank the one they were thinking of introducing as an option? CG Mouch has one of those on his moto-chopper, if it's the same one. Were you involved in its development? I first became aware of your bike work through the choppers of yours they were distributing. How did you hook up with them, and is it still going on, after the company's change of ownership?
A: Yes, that is a real baby, I keep threatening to kustomize a baby but I'm not quite ready yet. The picture is of my neighbor, Shawn Matlosz. That's the bike we call Daddy Bike. Shawn is one of my biggest supporters and my official "test rider." Most nights, when I've finished anything from a grip to a whole bike, Shawn is there to praise or criticize. After seeing me do around 33 customs in the last 6 years he had to have one. Not shown is the matching Trail-A-Bike that is also done in flat powder-coat black. There's a special trailer mount that's hard to see there behind the baby seat. We've had so much fun on this bike on the beach for the last couple of years, we even put an XM Jam Box in there sometimes, to cruise with some tunes. A 12-pack of beer fits quite nicely too, I might add.
We live about 300 yards from the beach, here in Manhattan Beach. We're about 5 minutes from LAX, and I believe some of the best beach riding around. You can cruise non-stop south about 6 miles to Redondo Beach, in front of miles of beach houses and volleyball in one direction. Go north and there's Marina del Rey, with lots of cool boats to look at. Keep going and you go through Venice and MuscleBeach, where there's every type of human imaginable on any given day. Farther north is Santa Monica, which is a beautiful city, and of course the amusement park on the pier. All told, in that direction, is probably a 15-mile ride that is very enjoyable.
I feel like a politician because I'm always getting back to the question: Yes; that is one of the old Phat Cyclesframes and tanks. I made the molds for that tank probably 4 years ago. There was a fender that went along with it also, both vacuum-formed out of ABS plastic. Vacuum-forming, for those that don't know, is a process where plastic is heated to become soft, then draped over a form and literally sucked into shape. The plastic then cools with the shape in it and is trimmed to fit. Works great; and these fenders were my first attempt at mold-making which I'm doing quite a bit of lately.
The clubs in Australia were the inspiration for this bike. Known as "Disco Balls," a New York collector owns it now. This was my first
attempt at metalflake paint which is really fun to play with.
I approached Phat Cycles a few years ago, and asked if they wanted to do a limited run of 20 choppers. They said yes, so I hand-built 20 frames in my friend Nick Garfias'sgarage in Long Beach. These were all done after hours and weekends, which really took a toll on me. After the 20 I threw away the frame jig, vowing never to build another one of those by hand again. I was very burned out at that point. They retailed for $2500 at that time; and at that price I probably made $3 per hour if I was lucky, not exactly a great way to make a living. After Phat was bought, a couple of years ago, I moved to a new company- Felt Racing in Lake Forest, CA. I'd like to talk about Felt more when you feel the time is right.
Q: Pretty tough to top that as a segue; and no time like the present, I always say. It's funny, but I was under the impression that Felt was a German company; probably because the first ones I saw were photos of some kustomized ones sent me by people over there.
We've got these photos of that amazing copper one. Is that typical, or a special show bike? What sort of deal do you have with them?
This is the "Copper Chopper" recently debuted at Interbike. Shown here on its maiden voyage in Hermosa Beach. This was actually my original chopper revamped into a new look.
A: You're right, Felt Racing is registered as a German corporation. They were started about 5 years ago by Micheal Muellmann, Bill Duehring, and Jim Felt. Micheal and Bill are the two main partners. We like to think it gives the company the best of both worlds: German quality combined with USA style and creativity.
Micheal is in charge of the German division where they do all international sales. Micheal's background is a company called Sports Imports, that he has owned for 20 Years.
Bill is head of the USA division and the guy I report to here in CA. He was with Jamis for 7 years, and GT for 15 years previously, before joining with Micheal to begin Felt. He has 25 years experience sourcing parts in Taiwan, and has a really great relationship over there with factories. It gives us a real advantage trying to get the best quality bike possible. As you can imagine, having to source all of the little parts on a bike and put them together into a quality product is quite a task.
Jim Felt is the namesake and has lots of frame design under his belt. He consults for the company on technical issues. Jim worked for Easton, is a custom frame builder and was the team mechanic for Johnny Omara years ago. I've only met him once at Interbike, this year but he's a real hoot.
Felt brought me in to help with details and design on their cruisers. They had been planning on producing cruisers in the states but wanted to have a really strong product before release because of the immense competition here. As you can imagine, just getting bikes designed and manufactured with off-the-shelf parts is a task as it is. Keeping up with changes, designing new suspension bikes, BMX and road bikes, really keeps them busy. I'm an outside designer who can look at the line from a distance and make suggestions, prototypes, etc. to help make a better bike. I work with engineers such as Jeff Soucek and Tim Lane getting parts designed on the computer.
Those guys are amazing, I wish I had that skill. Graphic artist Brett King does a great job on colors and graphics, Brian Wilson as director of product development has the daunting task of trying to get all my crazy, plus everyone else's ideas and wishes, and actually having a factory make it happen...not easy.
We just debuted about 12 new cruisers at Interbike a couple of weeks ago that are in production now and scheduled to arrive in November. I believe they're the best lineup out there. We're also working on a version of my recumbent chopper (similiar frame to the Copper Chopper) that will be available hopefully by spring-summer. I'm really excited about this bike. I've been working on it for 6 years on and off, and finally going into full-scale production. Their website is www.feltracing.com: cruisers aren't up yet, but will be soon.
Q: That's great that it actually occurred to them to bring in a real kustom-culture gearhead to get it right. That's pretty rare in the bike industry. I could be wrong, but aside from you at Felt, and Aaron at Nirve, there are no other hard-core kustom kats actually in charge of the serious cultural signifiers. The usual deal is that some 9-to-5 guy in product development flips through some hot-rod magazines, watches a couple of episodes of American Chopper, and browses through BR&K, picks up some superficial touches and slaps them onto a product. It never seems to occur to them that Kustom is a way of life and thinking, and not just a set of superficial style points no thicker than a decal.
Coincidentally, last night I was doing some newsgroup searching using a recent feature of Google. I ran into an AP piece on the origin of Pacific's new "Schwinn" Stingray Chopper. They have coy implications on their website that it came out of a little chop shop near Milwaukee, home of Harley Davidson. However, it turns out that, in reality, it was designed on spec by a retired Lockheed Martin graphics guy in Lompoc, CA. He approached the company with it and they snapped it up. Don't get me wrong, I think it's basically a fun-looking kiddy bike, and much better-looking than Huffy's for example, but it's catching some flak among the kustombike crowd, for how many aspects of it are "just wrong".
Of course, there are other instances in which somebody with kustom cred is brought in to supply some details or a signature decal to somebody else's product design, like the Teutels of OCC to the Stingray, or Jesse James on the Huffy WCC abortion. Not that I consider the OCC guys to be about real kustom thinking; and Jesse's going along with brushing a thin veneer of style onto an ugly piece of crap is disturbing, at best.
Those Stelber people who hired George Barris to develop their Iverson line of musclebikes in the '60s were obviously just a bunch of New York City cigar-sucking suits; but they were hip enough to get Barris to really do it from the ground up, and it shows. Contrast his to those "beloved" 'Rays and Krates It's nice that that sort of thing can still happen in today's bike biz.
Before we get back to bikes, how about telling us the story behind this photo of the tasty '50 Ford Kustom? The guy in the blue shirt looks kind of familiar. ;-)
A: Wow, I couldn't agree more. No names, but a company I talked to a couple of years ago said that they got a lot of their advice about hot rods from their photographer who just happened to shoot rods. He photographed their beginning "hot rod bikes", and said you should do this and that; basically consulting for them. It's pretty sad, if that's your product consultant.
The problem with design these days, in many cases, is that everything is designed by committee and cost. You design this bike for a $200-dollar price range and that one for $400.The price dictates the design of the bike.
Another big problem I have is HOT RODS ARE NOT PAINT AND POLISH! Sorry, just hit a nerve there. You take an old car and paint and polish it, that's called a restoration. If you want to make a rod, you change the engine, the brakes, the suspension. Bicycles these days are trying to validate themselves as "motorcycle inspired" or "Kustom-Kulture inspired." Just painting a cruiser the colors of the 50's cars doesn't make it a legitimate item.
My hope with Felt is to change that trend, to make a bike that has a singular voice of quality from the rims to the grips. We want to make a statement that is top-to-bottom quality and individuality. I could go on for a while on this one, but go to a bike shop and look at all of the cruisers out there. I'm not very impressed. If we had to show a person from the 50's who was time-warped to 2004 our progress, I think we'd be pretty embarrassed. Look how far road bikes, BMX, etc. have come in 50 years. Cruisers have actually gotten worse in 100 years of "evolution." I don't want to let all of our innovations out of the bag but as an example, every new Felt Cruiser will have an aluminum frame.
I'm catching a breath now. I get a little worked up on that subject. That guy is starting to get very familiar to many people. It's Chip Foose. Chip is my boss, mentor, friend, colleague, and just a hell of a guy. He's the lead designer on Overhaulin'- a show on Tuesday nights at 9:00 on TLC. Chip's flat-out the most talented, hardest- working, and coolest man I've ever worked with. The guy is just a badass at taking anything and transforming it into a stylish machine with a signature vibe. Chip is the only savant and natural leader I've personally got to know. In my first year, we were working on Ron
Whiteside's Stallion (copper '34 Ford) and I'd just
logged something like 300 hours in a month. The funny thing is that no one asked me to do it, I just did. That's the gravitational force that is Foose
By the way, the 1950 Ford is the one we did on the 2nd installment of Overhaulin'. Chuck and Derick DeHeras own it. We took it from nice stocker to what you see in 7 days. Paint, trim, interior, one-off wheels, engine in and out, glass, all in one week. It's a really sweet car. Funny story about that car- Chuck came out one day and the car cover was on fire because the wheels had actually taken the sun's rays and turned them into a beam, catching the cover on fire- close call.
Q: I've caught that show a few times, and been incredibly impressed by Chip Foose. He's obviously an amazing guy. I've gotta confess, though, the premise of the show bothers me a lot, what with stealing people's cars for a week. I've had some experience with having a beloved, if bedraggled, car vanish ( a '57 Chevy convertible ), and I'll bet those people have a really rotten week, until they get it back by surprise.
I noticed that his name appears in the filenames of the photos of this bike, which is pretty stunning. The mechanical details in the close-ups are just so hot-rod. Did you make this one for Chip?
A: Well, I personally didn't feel bad taking people's cars because most of them would have never been finished on their own. The producers have purposefully picked deserving people that (normally) didn't have time or money to finish. To boot, they receive a $300,000 build on their toy. Worst-case scenario: sell your new ride for $100,000 and buy yourself another beater for $3000 and keep the change. I'd go through a week of hell any day for the car lottery. Just as a side note, the show receives 1000 requests a day to be on the show!
Yes, I did build this bike for Chip, as a trade for a set of his wheels for my Dodge Dakota. It started out as a simple thing, and of course got out of hand. This was definitely the bike where I stepped up the detail. He's such a detail freak; and having Team Foose look over my shoulder is quite daunting. He even designed and helped build some of it at
the end. He designed the paint scheme, the seat, and built the grips. He milled the triple- tree into a really cool shape, as well.
The hottest thing about this one is the shifter mechanism. I got the idea one day that putting mechanical linkage on a Nexus 7-speed would be really cool. Unfortunately, Foose wasn't going to give me an extra wheel for my spare because I went overboard on his bike. The old bikes had mechanical shifters and brakes (as did cars) because the cable devices hadn't yet come into play. They had such a cool look- Heim ends and threaded bars, that nothing else has today, except for transmissions and emergency brakes that are hidden under automobiles
I took the 7-speed and mounted it under the seat, almost in the front of the seat. It barely fits. Then I cut off the grip shift and mounted an aluminum arm on it. There's a ball pivot point, a sliding Heim, and a spring involved Other than that its hard to explain. Hopefully the close-up will explain it better than I can. Suffice to say that I spent a lot of time on it. I started with 4 gears, then 5 and eventually I actually got the thing to go through all 7 gears. It now hangs in Foose's office.
Q: This one really does it for me. Robert Egger's Speed Queen falls into this category ( faired sled?), as does my Kandiru. But this one goes so much further than either of those in that kustom/hot rod spirit of the mechanical infrastructure, while being similar in visual concept. Tell us about this one, please.
A: This bike was the last of the series of 20 frames that I built. It was intended to be for me, as many are; but Bill Duehring from Felt came by the shop one day. He asked about it and I quoted him a price that would scare most people and he said "Cool; I'll take it and use it as a show bike." The rest is history.
I already had it roughed together: An aluminum tank was made. I hand-beat that thing out of.060 thick aluminum. The fenders originally were gonna be made out of aluminum as well, but I changed my mind and had Chad at Retro-Fitz make me a set. I took the rough moldings he gave me, and trimmed and shaped them into submission. The stainless around the fenders is actually Dan Fink grill material. He takes stainless angle iron (1" x 1/8") and mills it to have a bead on one side. I then hand-bent them into shape. Once they were bent, welded and rough-ground to shape, I actually spent another 6 hours just filing them to be polished- wow, those were a lot of work! I think I'm sweating just looking back.
There's a 7-speed Nexus shifter on one side of the fake oil bath and front brake lever on the other side. The trick is to get both of them on the same angle as you look down. That took some tinkering.
The seat and bags are leather by Gabe's Upholstery. Chip helped me with the colors. He's really good at getting good colors together.
The pedals, hub covers, and knobs were spun on a lathe by me, with help from our machinist, Karl Johanason. He is literally like a human CNC, and I have learned so much from watching this guy. Who actually uses manual mills and lathes that much anymore in a professional setting?
The speedo works, and has a special cable that was 50 bucks on its own. I think it's my finest work so far, and I wonder how I can top it. This bike was paying hommage to the old Indian motorcycles, the funny thing is now I want to build a motorcycle that pays hommage to this
bike usually it's the other way around.
A: Jeezus! That bike really raises the bar, as far as I'm concerned. I find it hard to believe that it could be done much better, even if you found a way to put even more time and money into it.
one in the same vein, but haven't seen it yet. I find it pretty refreshing that so many new paths are being cut by all sorts of people in the kustom world; with all kinds of interesting cross-pollination going on. It's really cool that
Your bicycle hommage moto idea reminds me that there seems to be a new shift in thinking among kustom motorcycle designers, in which they refer back to the bicycle roots of the motorcycle. I suppose you've seen that one by Jesse Rook, which is styled after the "tanker" classic bikes of the '30s, or at least the kustom treatments of them. I've heard of another
A: One, it's my roots in transportation. I live by the beach, and bikes are my main transportation on the weekends and at night. After a one-hour commute each way a day (40-50 hours in my car a month) and 120-160 hours a month building cars, the last thing I want to do on the side is think about another car. That's where bikes come in. I ride them on the weekend, think about them at night and on my drive, and build them somewhere in between all of that.
Q: That makes perfect sense, of course; but I've thought of another reason, which I think, applies to other people who work in both fields in a non-commercial, creative way. My theory is that modern hot rods and kustom cars are so hideously expensive to build that it's very difficult for someone who doesn't start out wealthy to do more than one really well-done car project per decade, if that often.
If you do anything as an art form, you can't possibly only do one piece of it. The Mona Lisa was a major masterpiece for Leonardo DaVinci, but he didn't stop painting once he made it; because we all think that our greatest creation is going to be the next one. It's a serial thing with us.
Bikes are so inherently cheaper to create, even at a world-class show level, like yours, that it's possible to make them one after another; without having a wealthy customer to buy them when they're finished. I haven't asked him, but from what I've heard on the kustom bike boards, Aaron Bethlenfalvy's new Chupacabra cost him about $14,000 for the aspects he didn't do himself. That sounds like a lot of money for a bicycle, and it is, for most people. But when you consider that's the typical price tag for a Korean compact car, or the cheapest stock Harley Davidson motorcycle, it starts to make a lot of sense.
You've mentioned that you'd like to build a motorcycle as un hommage to that Indian-styled sled of yours. Do you have any other cross-collateral urges combining the bicycle concept with any other forms of kustom design?
A: Normally my inspiration for doing bicycles is something else, having a bicycle be the theme behind a car or motorcycle doesn't seem to happen very much for me. However, elements of bikes can be used all of the time- especially in the department of suspensions. Bikes are essentially chassis; normally, they don't have a skin covering them. It's one of the things appealing about them; you always know what's running the beast because it's right in front of you, plain and simple. Suspension bikes and Ducatis are great for getting ideas for car chassis, for example. My latest concept is taking the idea of a monster truck and making a bicycle out of that. I don't want to give it all away but it should be fun!
I assume that the "300 MPH" line doesn't refer to your bicycles, but to automotive drag racing. Do you have any interest in exploring the concept of bicycle drag racing? If so, what sort of bicycle dragster would you envision creating?
A: I'm a big fan of drag racing, and when looking for a logo for my business, Nixon, the 60's dragster man was a natural. It's a little skull, little Darth Vader, what can I say? I just think it looks mean. Nick Garfias is the artist who penned him, and all of my T-shirt designs. He is a senior designer for Mercedes who's also a hot rod guy, quite a mix and quite a talent. He's a good friend.
Many of my bikes look like dragsters but they actually do their best work downhill. I have a large, very long hill next to my house and they fly, due to their low wind signature..
I really want someone to drag me up to our local mountain and just haul butt down the winding road until I run out of shoe rubber to stop.
Q: Ooh! Ooh! Now you're getting into one of my personal fantasies. Are you familiar with gravity bikes? Check these things out. They're based on BMX, usually, with the pedals and chain removed, among other mods. And the faired ones can be fast as lightning, depending on the hill, of course.
They're extremely cool-looking, already; but just imagine how much cooler they could look if the right designer got into the concept. And they don't have to be based on 20" BMX. It would be a good use for those MTBs, which seem so passe', now that it's chopper time. My buddy Walter lives in the Sierras, 10 miles up the hill from Porterville. CA. Every time we drive down
that incredibly long hill in his spookily-silent Q45, I always imagine I'm on a gravity bike. Sure,
I'd hit about 150 MPH before flying off the mountain with the wheel bearings on fire; but I can think of lots-less-amusing ways to bite the big one.
A: Man, those downhill bikes are bad! I think I may have seen them on ESPN, but it's been a while. I want to build a chopper version now, and see what it would do. I think I'm pushing the limit on age though-.33. I took a spill a couple of years ago that was pretty bad. 30 miles an hour and got the speed wobbles (4 ft-long ape hangers and no brakes.) If that wasn't smart enough; I was only wearing flip-flops and shorts: no shirt! Needless to say, I'm a little gun-shy about gravity bikes at this point but I may just be dumb enough to try.
Q: Pushing the age limit at 33? Dude, I'm old enough to be your ( late ) father, and I'm still getting the crap kicked out of me by Ol' Man Gravity. And dumb? A few months ago, I took a bike dragster with radical head rake out on its first test run. Like an idiot, I went downhill on it, and then I made a sharp turn. I thought the son of a bitch had killed me for about 15 minutes.
Back to smart chat: Every field of endeavor has its own superstars- people who serve as examples and role models for aspirants. When I was a young wannabe kustom kat, those people were Barris, Roth, Casper, Cushenberry, Starbird, and Watson, among others.
I've got my own list of people in the equivalent pantheon of contemporary bike kustom superstars, and not too surprisingly, you're on it. Although they were ostensibly "competitors", I know that Barris and Roth had a lot of respect for each other's work, in spite of their differences of style. What about you? Who, among your contemporaries in the field, do you consider a fellow, if different, master of the form?
A: My biggest role models growing up in kustom cars were definitely Chip Foose,Boyd, and Troy Trepanier. Chip's cars never had a bad line on them. He just never seemed to piss you off with anything he did. now, working with him has pushed my level of work to a whole new plane.
Chip, by evolution does exactly what he wants on every project with very little compromise. He does compromise on little things, but not very much. Consequently, he never feels let down because he doesn't
do something all the way through. It's like the snowball effect that most people have on their projects. First, just some wheels, some paint, and next thing you know, full show car. I've learned to envision exactly what I want- spare no expense, and follow through with the details until the project is really done. This is the only way to actually be satisfied in the end because you are proud of yourself for the effort. This is one of the biggest things I picked up from Foose.
The coolest thing about working in this industry now is that my heroes are my friends. To be accepted by these guys into the group has been a real dream come true. I'm chasing my dreams every day!
Q: Oh sure, those guys are great; and they're on my updated heroes list, too. Especially Boyd, because he came along with a fresh approach, when hot-rod style was in a degenerate state. (Those paint-and-polish "resto-rods" you were ranting about earlier come to mind.)
But what I was really asking was if there are any other people primarily doing bikes, nowadays, whose work you admire?
A: Honestly, other than the guys I see doing cool things on your site, I don't really know of people doing kustom bikes. Brett King from Felt just did a really cool silver cruiser for himself that I was totally into. He took it out and caked it full of mud not that long after it was done; seemed fun; but I don't like to clean that much. Aaron from Nirve did a cool blue chopper I saw at Interbike this year, I especially liked the shifter and blue flake. I've spoken to Greg Barron of Rideable Bicycle Replicas several times recently. He manufactures old big wheels that look like a blast, I am fascinated by all old things mechanical, and his really hit the bill. Sorry, I wish I had more peers who build kustom bikes but I just don't.
Q: To be equally honest, I can't think of anybody else working at your level, either- except maybe Aaron. And John Brain has a new project going, which will kick major ass. But, I was hoping that you'd know of someone I hadn't heard of, so we could interview them.
Of course, now that our crowd has seen what you're doing, they'll have a new target to shoot for. So your interview and portfolio will probably set off a frenzy of other guys trying to top your efforts. I showed John Brain some of your detail shots, and he's already plotting, I'm sure. We like stirring people up that way.
Here comes my usual favorite question: What comes next? I realize that you must share that same urge we all have- to top yourself.
A: There's so much in my head right now, just not enough time in the day.
This interview sent me to the gravity bikes website and has actually given me a motive to build something on the back-burner for probably 3 years. Two ideas, one low and long, the other could run over it and squish it like a packet of ketchup! We'll see what Felt says: who knows, maybe both!.
Q: Thanks very much, Bryan. We hope you and our friend, Ol' Man Gravity have fun together. It'll be interesting to see what comes out of the relationship.
A Fuller Chopper catching some beach rays.
But, you work in both the high-end kustom car area, as well as the high-end kustom bike field. Has this held true all the time since you were a kid, or is the bike thing a case of more recently getting back to your creative roots for some reason? What is it about creating bikes as an art form that appeals to you? Is there something you get from working with bikes that you don't